Yonnie Stevens, who recently was named director of Plantation South of Dunwoody, an assisted living and memory care home, said she has a heart for older people that began with visits with her grandfather when she was growing up.
“He was nearly 100 when I got to know him,” she recalled. “We lived in St. Louis and came to visit him in Georgia every year. I would walk and talk with him and listen to his stories. He didn’t just know history, he lived it. He had 14 brothers and sisters and saw some of them sold on the auction block.”
Stevens, whose actual first name is Audrienne, was close to her grandfather until his death at age 114. Her interest in caring for older people continued as she volunteered at nursing homes when she was out of school for the summer.
When she learned that she could make an occupation of caring for older people she decided that was the path she wanted to follow. Stevens is a graduate of Fisk University with a degree in health care administration offered through a partnership between Fisk University and Meharry Medical College, adjacent institutions in Nashville, Tenn. She now has been in the business nearly 20 years and is one of only 20 certified caregiver trainers as recognized by the state of Georgia.
Based on her family experience, Stevens became sensitive to the fact that older people need more than food, medicine and a place to sleep. They need to live the same rich, full lives they’ve always led, she said, noting that she is proud of the programs at Plantation South of Dunwoody that create a vibrant lifestyle for its residents that includes opportunities to interact with pets. “Pets are welcome here,” she said, adding that local organizations bring pets in from time to time that residents can pet, walk and interact with.
Steven Piazza, CEO of Senior Management Advisors, the Florida-based company that owns Plantation South, said of Stevens, “Her understanding of the needs of seniors and their family members, as well as her creativity and management skills, allow us to continue to provide an exceptional experience for residents at Plantation South Dunwoody.”
The Plantation South community has assisted living facilities for residents who need medication supervision, light housekeeping help and companionship. Personal care services such as hygiene assistance and staff escort to meals and activities are available to those who require them. A separate facility houses those with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. There, residents participate in activities designed for memory support.
“I want to build the activity calendar based on what the residents are interested in,” Stevens said. “If someone tells me he likes to play poker, I try to find others who are interested so we can set up games.” She said that residents are encouraged to form clubs to explore such shared interests as photography, woodworking, crafts and cooking. There also are art and computer classes, religious services, games, musical entertainment and more, she said. “We keep a full calendar.”
The grounds include a patio and garden area and inside there’s a coffee shop where residents can have a snack anytime and a “country store,” where they can spend their bingo winnings.
Most residents live at Plantation South all year except for brief visits with family; others come for short periods under the respite care program while family members take a vacation or tend to business or personal matters.
Stevens said that no two days at Plantation South are the same. “You have to be prepared for anything,” she said, noting that her day is focused on keeping residents safe, healthy and happy.”